A new study finds that providing surgeons with guidelines on prescribing painkillers for specific types of surgeries resulted in a 53 percent drop in opioid prescribing, The Washington Post reports.
The researchers from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center surveyed patients undergoing common surgeries about how many painkillers they took. The procedures were partial mastectomy, partial mastectomy with a lymph-node biopsy, gall-bladder removal and two kinds of hernia repair. Patients consumed only 28 percent of the opioids they were prescribed, they report in the Annals of Surgery.
Based on the survey, the researchers recommended surgeons limit the number of painkillers to five for partial mastectomy, 10 for partial mastectomy with a lymph-node biopsy, and 15 for the other three operations. Surgeons should tell patients they would most likely be able to manage their pain with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, the guidelines state.